But a shortage of one key item might be putting a damper on shoppers’ passion.

U.S.-based Costco owes its success to its expertise with logistics and economies of scale, and it’s now looking to put those skills to use by expanding across the Pacific to the world’s most populous nation. On August 27 Costco opened its first Chinese branch in the suburbs of Shanghai, and ordinarily you might not expect a lot of people to show up for shopping on a Tuesday morning. However, as these videos and photos show, Shanghai was perfectly willing to get up early in order to get some deals.

That’s an amassed crowd of people so eager to get into the store that they begin crawling under the entrance shutter even before it’s done being raised. And if you think things were any less competitive once they got inside, think again. Video shows shoppers emptying cardboard shipping boxes as soon as they’re placed on the floor and multiple sets of hands tugging at the same cuts of meat the moment the butcher lays them in the sales case. Then there was the human wall of security personnel that had to be stationed at the entrance for crowd control.

Eventually the sea of shoppers became so dense that Costco decided to close early for the day, shutting down shortly after 1 p.m., roughly eight hours earlier than its scheduled closing time. This no doubt came as a shock to those who were still waiting in the three-hour-long line to park their cars in Costco’s lot.

Huge crowds showed up the second day too, though Costco installed a new policy limiting the number of shoppers allowed inside to 2,000 at any given time.

Costco is charging 299 yuan (US$42.30) for year-long memberships in China, though those who pre-registered online were able to do so at a 33-percent discount. However, China-based website Shanghaiist reports that while Costco has already met its goal of 100,000 memberships in China, a number of people are already thinking of canceling theirs. The reason? Apparently a significant part of Costco’s appeal in China came from it being a low-priced supplier of the Maotai brand of baiju, a clear distilled sorghum liquor, produced by Chinese government-owned distiller Kweichow Moutai. However, Costco has faced a shortage after selling out of its initial stock of the spirit, Shanghaiist says, leaving some Costco members pondering whether or not it’s worth sticking with the relationship if it doesn’t include cheap Maotai.

Sources: Hachima Kiko, Shanghaiist, Reuters
Top image: Wikipedia/JesseW900
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